These questions are of particular interest to Lee Oser, professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross, and the subject of an essay he authored that was recently published in Literary Imagination, a peer-reviewed journal published by Oxford University Press.
In the essay, “Imagination, Judgment, and Belief in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’” Oser draws a connection between a passage in The Spiritual Exercises (1548) of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and a famous speech on imagination by Theseus in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Oser examines a specific passage in The Spiritual Exercises where Ignatius instructs retreatants to subject the length, breadth, and depth of Hell to the eyes of the imagination. Oser goes on to say that Shakespeare seizes on this implicit defense of imagination and makes that a question in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” through Theseus’ speech. This question asks whether imagination is something people should believe in, or whether it is a kind of gull, a deceiver, of the mind.
Oser’s essay builds on the work of scholars such as Garry Wills and Stephen Greenblatt, both Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, who have connected Shakespeare to Jesuit circles in England. It is this body of scholarship that supports Oser when he points to five specific areas in Theseus’ speech that very closely parallel Ignatius’ writings in The Spiritual Exercises.
When asked how he discovered the connection, Oser mentioned that he had Theseus’ speech fairly well memorized, but it was really because of his daily regimen of reading Latin that he was able to make the link between these two distinct texts.
The essay isn’t Oser’s only foray into Catholic literature. He brings a Catholic perspective to his second novel, “The Oracles Fell Silent,” which was released earlier this year. He spoke to Telegram & Gazette about the new book earlier this year.
Lecture Examines Role of Black Church as Training Ground for ActivismSee More > 01/28/2015
Opening Reception for 'Pulse: New Work by Faculty Artists'See More > 02/02/2015
Holy Cross to Host Panel on Urban Education and AccountabilitySee More > 02/03/2015
First Tuesday Lunch ConcertSee More >
‘Rinklin alters perceptions in a new show at Zevitas Gallery’
Boston Globe | WBUR (Boston's NPR station)
Cristi Rinklin, associate professor and chair of the visual arts department at the College of the Holy Cross, received a glowing review from the Boston Globe and WBUR for...12/19/14
Kiplinger’s Ranks Holy Cross No. 27 ‘Best Value’ Liberal Arts College
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine has ranked the College of the Holy Cross No. 27 among all liberal arts colleges and No. 45 overall among all colleges in the country...12/17/14
‘Pakistan School Attack: The Symbolism Is Unmistakable’
In his debut piece for WBUR’s Cognoscenti, Mathew Schmalz, associate professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross, writes about the symbolism in the...